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It all started in 2005…..


After the massive earthquake under the floor of the Indian Ocean on Dec. 26, 2004, a series of deadly tsunamis (giant waves as high as 20 feet) crashed into Sri Lanka and caused massive destruction and loss of life, devastating most of the coastal region of the country.


In May 2005 the Chairman, President and CEO of the company I worked for (Charming Shoppes, Inc.), Dorrit Bern, asked me to travel to Sri Lanka, to identify a tsunami relief project the company could sponsor.


During my visit three projects stood out:


1. A small convent and girl’s home, St. Therese’s, in Elpitiya, close to Galle on Sri Lanka’s southwest coast. St. Therese’s had fallen into a state of disrepair prior to the Tsunamis. The roof on the dormitory building leaked badly and there were no functional indoor bathrooms. The nuns were looking for a sponsor to pay for the repair and renovation of the existing dormitory, the construction of bathrooms and a new dormitory building.

2. De La Salle College in Mutwal/Colombo North
A school founded by Christian Brothers in 1905 for underprivileged boys in the fishing community of Mutwal/Colombo North, one of Colombo’s poorest districts. The principal of the college was looking for financial support for student needs, family needs and funding for the repair of the school buildings.

3. Establishing a Scholarship Fund to provide needy children with an opportunity for a good education.



Overwhelmed by the needs of the children, I shared my findings with Dorrit Bern and my closest friends. The support I received was incredible.


  • St. Therese’s was repaired, and Charming Shoppes, Inc. sponsored the building of the new dormitory; and one of our trustees paid for the roof repairs at De La Salle College.


  • Most important, we started our Scholarship Fund, which remains our main goal, as we believe that a good education will empower underprivileged children to build a better life for themselves and their families in future.

How much does it take to support a child’s education?

As little as:


US$300 - 350 per year in primary and secondary school

US$500 - 650 per year in high school, and


A scholarship cannot be granted just for one year.

Our fund has pledged to support each child whose study results are satisfactory until her/his education is complete. Therefore the scholarships are multi-year, provided we receive proof of satisfactory academic results.


Please share in our pride and joy over the accomplishments to date and please continue with your support. The smiles of the children are a really heart warming “Thank you” to all of us.


While the children will not remember us personally, they will remember that we helped them, and in turn, we are certain they will give back to their community and society in future.


My sincere thanks to all our supporters: trustees, friends, acquaintances and generous individuals from all walks of life, who believe in education for underprivileged children. 


Erna Zint

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 Feb 2023 00:39